Twitter users are tracking Navy ships using newly activated beacons

Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-03 18:42:45-04

UNITED STATES – People on Twitter are tracking what is believed to be U.S. Navy warship positions, the Stars and Stripes said Tuesday.

On September 29, NPR reported Naval ships were ordered to turn on their Automatic Identification System (AIS) locators after a series of collisions that killed 17 Sailors in the past couple of months.

A tweet posted on Sunday, Oct. 1. 2017, that maps the location of a “US GOV VSL” approaching Hong Kong reads: “Reason to believe this is USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).” (Screenshot courtesy of the Stars and Stripes)

According to a few tweets, this apparently allows people to track the ships’ positions online.

Retired Vice Admiral William Douglas Crowder told NPR that Navy ships usually use locators in receive-only mode. This allows them to see other ships using the system while remaining hidden. Although it is still unclear whether the USS Fitzgerald was transmitting its AIS during its June collision, it is known that the USS John S. McCain was not when it collided with a merchant ship in August.

Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, said it’s unlikely that AIS data will give much away to the U.S. Navy’s potential enemies.

Click here to read more.

Related links:

Ten people missing after USS John S. McCain collides with merchant ship

US Navy 7th Fleet commander to be dismissed

Navy recovers bodies of all 10 Sailors killed in USS John S. McCain collision

Congress grills Navy on ship collisions

US Navy ships in deadly collisions had dismal training records

Seven Sailors missing after USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan coast

Bodies of missing USS Fitzgerald sailors found in flooded compartments

New details emerge in USS Fitzgerald collision investigation

Initial investigation blames Navy for USS Fitzgerald collision

Navy to relieve USS Fitzgerald leadership following deadly collision